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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



It’s Only A Game…

September 9th, 2007 by Caroline Spector

When I was still a dewy-eyed young thing, I moved to Austin.  (This was a looong time ago.) I’d recently rediscovered comic books, and one of my first outings upon getting settled was a trip to Austin Books to pick up my weekly fix of funny books.

When I returned the next week, Ron Tatar, the manager, offered me a job.

One afternoon, about a month after I started working, two guys came into the store.  One was a tall, thin job and the other was a shorter guy with a beard.  They were buying their weekly fix of funny books and we struck up a conversation.

This is how I met The Dude.

Now I didn’t know he was going to be The Dude when we met.  There were many complicating factors in the way of our eventual romance, none of which I’m going to detail here. (Oh, I know you’d like me to, but, no, I’m taking the high road.  Which will leave most of you who know me completely baffled, I know.)

Flash forward to a year or so later.  I’m still working at Austin Books, when one day I get offered a job working at Steve Jackson Games as Assistant Marketing Director.  (The title is so they don’t have to pay me as much as they would a secretary.)  I take the job.  I show up for work, and who should be there but The Dude.  Turns out he’s Editor-in-Chief.  

 Eventually, through a long series of twists and turns, The Dude and I started dating and, eventually, we married.  (Thereby finding that one special person we could annoy for the rest of our lives.  Thank you, Rita Rudner.)

We celebrated our twentieth anniversary this year.

I’m bringing all this up because we went to a party this week to help raise funds to support the Video Game Archive housed in the Center for American History at the University of Texas.  It was a terrific party, despite the fact that it was held outdoors and it had been raining for two days.  Maybe it was wonderful because so many people showed up defying the rain.  Or maybe because we saw friends and colleagues we hadn’t seen in years.

So how does my romance with The Dude relate?  Well, were it not for games, we probably wouldn’t be married.   (If you’re going to get all technical about it, Austin Books had something to do with it as well, but I’m working on something here.)

We worked together at a game company. We play-tested games together.  (Some of the most fun I’ve had roleplaying was when he was developing Toon, the Cartoon Roleplaying Game.)  Later, we went to the sphincter of the Midwest, Lake Geneva, WI, so Warren could work for TSR.  A few years after that, we got rescued from that Diaspora and came back to Austin so The Dude could work for Origin Systems.

The rest is pretty much history.

Our lives have been bound up with gaming for as long as I can remember.  I wrote computer-game hint books and later got to cut my fiction teeth on novels set in game universes.  And The Dude went from being a workaday game guy to being a Game God.

And when The Dude got up to speak at the party before the auction began, he talked about how games have changed the world.  And they really have.  If you look around, you’ll start to see the connections.  And as I sat there and listened to The Dude speak, and then looked around the room at all these people who were in my karass, I realized he was right.  Games did change the world.

They also changed my life. 

Posted in Caroline, History, People, Personal History, Pop. Culture, Technology, The Dude | 8 Comments »

8 Responses

  1. Bill Bottorff Says:

    Caroline, I have read through “It’s Only A Game” several times and every time the shadow of a new thread appears. This is a tapestry that you will have to weave more completely. It is a story so rich and layered that it could be several books. You need to write it. And the next twenty years will be another world changing saga daring you to observe and describe it. May they be very good years for you and the Dude.
    Bill

  2. Paula Helm Murray Says:

    see http://dragonet2.livejournal.com/102468.html?nc=5

    on my LJ. Dr. Paisley and I have been marriedfor a bit more than 29 years. (where did the time go?)

  3. Maureen McQ Says:

    Caroline, Bill is right. There’s a book in here. I don’t know if you could write it without lawsuits from half the people mentioned in the book (oh not Bud, of course, but everyone else) but damn it would be a great read.

  4. Steven Gould Says:

    Excellent, Caroline. For another great take on how games changed someones life check out Wil Wheaton’s keynote address at the PAX conference.

    It begins, “Thank-you. My name is Wil Wheaton and Jack Thompson can suck my balls.”

    (For those not in gaming, Jack Thompson is a self-appointed crusader against video game violence.)

  5. Caroline Spector Says:

    Bill,

    When I started writing this post, I was going to just talk about the party and who all was there, but it kinda mutated into something else.

    For those of you not in the know, Bill is a Secret Master of Gaming and has been vital to getting the Game Archive off the ground.

    He’s also a damn nice guy.

  6. Rory Harper Says:

    Caroline, you know…. This is all actually pretty damn romantic…

    Books aside, there’s probably a nice song in there somewhere.

  7. rb Says:

    I know a fantastic archivist, soon to be made redundant.

  8. Paula Helm Murray Says:

    We certainly gamed enough after we met. I went to a different school my first year of college (they had an active sf club), came back to U. Kans. and started a SF club there. took the first semester to get all the paperwork done, so the first meeting was in February.

    And Murray showed up at the first meeting and something in my brain said, “This is THE ONE.” We spent the next two and a half years until graduation gaming too much, learning about one another and loving one another’s company.

    We can’t figure out how time happened so fast. (how the hell did almost 34 years go by so fast?”)

    Love and best wishes to you all!

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